The World on Fire 133x200The World on Fire
Sheldon Woodbury
James Ward Kirk Publishing
August 16, 2014
Reviewed by Matthew Scott Baker

The World on Fire, my curiosity flag is immediately raised. Does the title mean the world is literally on fire? Or is it insinuating something metaphorical? These and many other questions race through my mind. Obviously, a title like this is a great way to spark interest. Add to that some intriguing cover art, and you’ve got a winning marketing combination.

I’m very pleased to report the story within the book is just as solid and interesting as the title and cover. The World on Fire is a horror-thriller unlike anything I’ve read before. And although the plot synopsis is a bit vague, don’t let that fool you; it is done on purpose. This is a complex tale that blurs the line between right and wrong and makes you reconsider what you know about good and evil.

If you are not familiar with The World on Fire, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of James Ward Kirk Publishing:

A serial-killing-arsonist called the “Angel of Death” is captured and sent to the infamous Spookhouse, a maximum security prison in the middle of the desert where the most horrific criminals are kept. But the impossible happens when he escapes with a journalist and six other psychos from death-row. They embark on an apocalyptic road trip that reveals a scary underground America that’s both mythic and haunting. This is an action packed thriller that will keep you up all night until the knock-out ending.

Author Sheldon Woodbury has a surefire hit on his hands. This book is a delight to read, and it poses some interesting questions. I will not flesh them out in detail during the review because I do not want to give anything away, but I can guarantee this story will make you look at the world differently.

The World on Fire is written well and flows at a smooth pace. The sentence structure and writing style is solid, and Woodbury does a good job of not overstuffing his paragraphs with exaggerated descriptions. I really like this aspect, as it lets the story move along quickly. If it was bogged down with too much exposition, the tale would not have nearly the impact on the reader.

The characters are all damaged but believable, with many too reprehensible to even care about. But that’s almost the point: you shouldn’t like them because of their past crimes, and you certainly won’t like them for what they do in the story. Still, Louis (a.k.a. the Angel of Death) elicits a sort of sympathy from the reader as he spouts his psychotic philosophy of a world ruled by chaos. As a result, he becomes almost likable at certain points…however, he quickly destroys that likability by committing some atrocious act that further solidifies his insanity.

My sole complaint about The World on Fire is a very minor one, and it is more of an observation than a gripe. I found several editing errors, including a couple of sentences with omitted words and one instance where the wrong word was used. This is by no means a reflection of the story at all; I just mention them because some folks are like me, in that these simply take us out of the immersion in the story.

The World on Fire is a major win for me, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice dose of mayhem to go with their chaos. Thoughtful, well constructed and downright terrifying, this book will be a treat for anyone looking to get their hands dirty, so to speak. It is available now in a variety of formats, so make a note.

About Matthew Scott Baker

Matthew Scott Baker is a horror writer from Greenland, AR. His fiction has appeared in Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as a couple of anthology collections, including FIFTY SHADES OF DECAY, a zombie anthology published in 2013 by Angelic Knight Press. In addition to writing fiction, Matthew runs Shattered Ravings, a blog devoted to reviewing movies and books in the horror, science-fiction, and fantasy genres.

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